CONYERS - It didn't matter where Salem played Tuesday night, Brandon Crumbley was bringing the heat with him.
Crumbley used an overpowering fastball to strike out nine in five solid innings in the Seminoles' 6-1 win over Rockdale County at Henson-Carr Legion Field in Conyers.
Crumbley was blessed with a lead before he even took the mound as Salem (11-9, 9-5 Region 8-AAAA) scored twice in the top of the first inning. The first came in an unconventional way as Cameron Gibson executed a hit-and-run on an 0-2 count, ripping a run-scoring double that scored pinch-runner Gazzara Mitchell.
Gibson came around to score later in the inning on a rare error by normally sure-handed Rockdale shortstop Nakeem Forte, the first of two errors by the junior, that made it 2-0. It was more than enough for Crumbley.
Crumbley, who allowed five hits in a 97-pitch effort, stranded two runners in scoring position in the second inning by striking out Kevin Tatum, and struck out the middle of the Rockdale lineup in order in the third after Ryan Conner and Forte began the inning with consecutive singles.
Salem added to its lead in the fourth inning. Logan Singleton's two-run double chased ineffective Rockdale starter Kevin Masters, who allowed five earned runs and walked eight in three innings and took the loss.
Kelsey Rudolph greeted reliever Bernard Thompson with a sacrifice fly RBI to give Salem a 6-0 lead. The Seminoles, who beat Rockdale for the second time in less than a month, had several chances to break the game open but left 13 on base, including seven in scoring position.
Rockdale (8-8, 6-8) finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth as Kevin Dawkins led off with a towering home run to left field. But Crumbley worked around three walks in the fourth and fifth, and Jimmy Gerard pitched two perfect innings to close out the game.
The game was played at Henson-Carr Legion Field instead of Rockdale County High School because of poor field conditions.
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.